OTC News Archive

UT sells rights to oil well technology

Engineering professors submitted gas research for commercialization

By Lauren Winchester, The Daily Texan
April 11, 2008

An energy production company bought gas technology developed by UT researchers and will soon install it into oil wells.

The technology, licensed to Platina Energy Group Inc., will reduce the amount of equipment used to extract gas and oil from wells and will help eliminate the problem of pump cavitation, which occurs when there is excess air in the pump.

Kamy Sepehrnoori and Augusto Podio, petroleum and geosystems engineering professors, helped develop technology that allows a submersible pump and a jet pump to be used together in a gas well, so a separate gas vent line is unnecessary.

Max Green, licensing specialist at UT’s Office of Technology Commercialization, said the technology will be installed on older oil wells that do not produce oil on a large scale. Green said Platina is the only company licensed to use the technology, though it has the right to sublicense the technology to other companies.

Rick Friedman, an associate director for licensing at UT, said giving Platina exclusive rights to the technology gives the company a competitive advantage.

The office receives about 140 invention disclosures per year from faculty members who want their technology commercialized, Friedman said. The office then decides if it wants to secure patent protection for the technology and commercialize the invention.

The office signs about 30 to 40 new licenses per year.

“Our basic function is to get technology that is invented at UT and help transition it into products in the real world by licensing or helping start up new companies,” Friedman said.

Though the office would not announce how much money the license was sold for, the office made $8.4 million in 2006—an amount that has doubled in the past three years.